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Johannesburg - Controversial former ANC leader and businessman Mutumwa Mawere allegedly used the ruling party’s letterhead and the signature of a colleague to defraud the national lottery of more than R5 million – a matter now being probed by the Hawks.
It emerged this week that despite being alerted to the investigation by the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations, the National Lotteries Board made an additional payment of more than R1.1m into Mawere’s account. He was chairman of the ANC’s Rivonia branch in Johannesburg until January, when he was expelled over the matter.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, to whom the lotteries board reports, has entered the fray – requesting a full report of the investigation into how the alleged fraud took place.
He was only informed of the alleged fraud in a letter from lotteries board chairman Professor Alfred Nevhutanda on August 12, a day after The Sunday Independent reported on the alleged fraud. “In that letter there was an indication that a forensic investigation was commissioned. On completion thereof, the report would be provided to the minister,” said Davies’s spokesman, Sidwell Medupe.
Three weeks ago we reported how Mawere had been arrested and was being investigated for allegedly defrauding the National Lotteries Board of R4.5m.
But it has now come to light that Mawere, through his non-governmental organisation, African Heritage Society (AHS), was paid another R1.1m by the board after the Hawks indicated that the initial R4.5m might have been fraudulently acquired.
The second payment, which The Sunday Independent has documentary proof of, has raised questions about the security measures around the board’s financial distributions. The lotteries board, through its distributing agencies, is in charge of distributing about R1.6 billion to charities and needy organisations every financial year.
The board admitted that it paid the money even after it was aware of the Hawks’ investigation, claiming that the payment process was well in advance when the Hawks brought the matter to their attention.
Chief executive of the board, Charlotte Mampane, told The Sunday Independent that the payment “should not have happened”.
She said the board had since initiated its own forensic investigation into the matter, which was running parallel to the Hawks’ investigation.
Mawere and his lawyer, Rod Montano, have declined to be interviewed about the allegations against him.
But ANC Rivonia branch secretary Jolene Hlongwa, who is said to be one of the complainants in the case, said Mawere did not have authority to use its letterhead for the application.
“We need to place it on record that whilst Mr Mawere was a member of the branch he had no authority, neither was he granted permission by the branch executive committee of the ANC Rivonia Heroes Branch, to utilise the branch letterhead/ materials and/or the electronic signatories of the office bearers to endorse any company and or to solicit funds from the South African Lottery Fund,” she said.
“Please note that we cannot comment further, as this matter is sub-judice,” she added.
ANC Gauteng spokesman Nkenke Kekana confirmed that Mawere was charged with using the ANC letterhead to allegedly defraud the lotteries board, put through a disciplinary process, found guilty and expelled.
Hawks spokesman, Captain Paul Ramaloko, previously told The Sunday Independent that Mawere allegedly applied for funding from the board for the building of a “corporate heritage museum”, but once the money was deposited it was transferred to his personal bank account.
He then allegedly submitted fraudulent invoices as proof of what the money was used for.
The Sunday Independent has separately established that:
* The original Mawere application for funding from the board was for R85m.
* The lotteries board did not verify fraudulent invoices he submitted about how the money was used.
* Though it claims Mawere’s name did not appear on any of the application documents, he is clearly mentioned as a trustee of AHS.
* The lotteries board only became aware of irregularities on the application when the police approached them for more information.
* The Hawks have allegedly obtained affidavits from AHS employees who claim they had no idea that their names were used in the application.
Mawere is currently out on R500 000 bail following his arrest on August 5, but The Sunday Independent has reliably been informed that he is being investigated on other charges of fraud related to different state organs.
Mawere, a controversial figure, is known to be close to many influential people in the ANC.
Mawere, who has dual citizenship, this year won a Constitutional Court case in Harare that allowed him to vote in the recent Zimbabwean elections.
He has been living in South Africa since fleeing Zimbabwe after the Mugabe government instituted a corruption probe against him and his business partners.
His mining assets have been frozen by the Zimbabwean government and early this year it took over his mining firm, African Resources Limited.